Sen. Scott Brown has taken a lead in the Massachusetts U.S. Senate race over his most likely challenger, consumer advocate and Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren. Recent polls, aggregated by RealClearPolitics.com, show the freshman senator ahead of his presumed rival by an average of 3.5 percent.
The most recent poll, conducted by Western New England University Polling Institute, in conjunction with the Springfield Republican newspaper and Masslive.com, found Brown with an 8-point lead over Warren, 49 percent to 41 percent. Ten percent were undecided. The survey of 527 registered voters had a margin of error of 4.3 percent.
Here's a look behind the overall results at the poll's numbers:
Brown and Warren were both the preferred candidate within their own parties. Democrats broke 70 percent for Warren, while Brown scored 94 percent among Republicans. Significantly for Brown, he scored much higher with Democrats than Brown, winning the support of 22 percent of Democrats, compared to only 4 percent of Republicans who preferred Warren.
Brown also enjoyed broad support from every part of the state. Brown's support was strongest among the North and South Shore communities around Boston. More than half of respondents from those regions, 54 percent, said they preferred Brown. Only 33 percent supported Warren. The only part of the state where Warren out-polled Brown was Boston and its immediate suburbs. Warren held a narrow advantage, 48 percent to 46 percent.
Brown scored high marks for his job performance on Capitol Hill thus far. Overall, 54 percent of respondents said they approved the way Brown has handling his job. Twenty-nine percent said they disapproved, while 19 percent said they didn't know or didn't answer.
Among Republicans, Brown's job approval shot to 88 percent, with only 4 percent disapproving and 8 percent unsure. Democrats were closely split, 42 percent disapproving to 39 percent approving his job performance. Most significantly, independent voters approved of him 58 percent to 21 percent not, with 20 percent unsure.
With more than seven months to go until Election Day, the poll asked respondents how likely they were to change their mind between now and then. Overall, 69 percent of respondents said they were certain of their choice and 31 percent said they might change their minds. Both candidates enjoyed strong support from within their own party. Among Democrats, 74 percent were certain of their support for Warren, while a whopping 91 percent of Republicans were positive Brown was their man.
Among independents, there was much less certainty. Forty percent of independents who initially answered they supported either candidate said they were open to changing their mind. Significantly for Warren, more of voters who initially said they preferred Brown were open to changing than minds than for her. While 28 percent of her supporters said they might change their minds, 34 percent of Brown's supporters answered the same.